As disruptive technology businesses sweep through sectors like a game of tech-enabled dominoes, we've seen first-hand the transformative role that research and human insight is playing in these evolutionary times. Demand for change is being driven by customers who are searching out better experiences and value from tech-enabled brands. In insurance, there's a drive to simplify long-winded policies and make the claims process more understandable, transparent and human. There's also greater competition in the market, thanks to price comparison sites and switch facilitators, especially when it comes to renewing insurance. But there's much that marketers and brand strategists can learn from this sector and how customers are driving demand.
No surprise that KPMG's report 'Insurtech 10: Trends for 2019'* highlighted the need for insurance brands to develop a strong customer focus. The report states that 'insurers must fundamentally change their business models and focus away from the product to organise themselves entirely around the customer, their experience and outcomes'. Interestingly, they also say that 'customer satisfaction and retention will be more important key performance indicators (KPIs) than operational efficiency'. Which, when you think about it, is how great B2C businesses work. They produce products and services that make it easy for empowered, happy consumers to like, share, recommend and feel good about.
Responsiveness should be a no-brainer for B2C and D2C brands.
Aside from price comparison, the lack of innovation around CX accompanied by often stultifying customer service has been a great rallying call, an enabler for insure-tech brands. They have responded with niche offerings that challenge the insurance status quo to become more innovative. Entirely new formats are being born, and companies are forming at a rapid pace to satisfy demand. These new insurance brands make a feature of technology. They're energetic, they make the product and service fun to engage with, and they put customers at ease by offering brand-based assurances that they won’t be let down, or frustrated when it comes to making a claim.
Customer-centricity is key
We talk to our clients a lot about innovation and developing new growth from customer-centric propositions. Big insurance providers have been under increased scrutiny in social media and via customer review sites like TrustPilot, where stories of insurance payout refusals, perceived loophole abuse and administrative errors get shared, go viral and damage brand reputation. To compete with the new raft of insure-tech disruptors, large firms should be using every imaginable customer touchpoint to gather data, and use this as a sounding board to understand what's going well, what isn't and what can be improved. Enormous amounts of unstructured data can be gathered up and analysed at scale using cultural analytics, which seeks to identify emerging trends. The other problem large organisations face is scale, especially when it comes to communications. Some of the best ideas come from motivated and engaged employees, which is where companies like Sideways6 can help gather ideas from customer-facing teams to discover what they think is important, or even how they might implement change.
Innovation around Peer-to-peer insurance
The mainstream insurance sector has already had to deal with the equalising spotlight of comparison websites, disruption from new technologies is enabling social proof insurance policies and self-insurance. Blockchain technology solves a few problems for insurance companies, in that it’s incredibly effective at reducing insurance fraud and keeping customer premiums down.
VouchForMe worked with us to fine-tune their blockchain-supported peer-to-peer insurance proposition for the UK market. Our work for this enterprising social-proof insurance firm used human insight to refine and tailor their insurance proposition.
Big insurance may follow suit: Deloitte’s 2019 insurer report** comments on the push by the insurance market to implement blockchain technology, 'looking ahead, 2019 will likely see the industry move past basic education and proofs of concept, to preparing for the launch of an increasing number of real-world blockchain applications impacting day-to-day operations'. In 2018, MarketsandMarkets projected that the value of blockchain components in the insurance market will see a compound annual growth rate of 84.9%, reaching $1.4 billion by the end of 2023.
This technology is changing the way insurers provide coverage, making once unthinkable product offerings, such as peer-to-peer insurance, a viable reality.
Our client, Waggel think pet insurance sucks, so they're changing it. Maintaining a laser-like focus on their customers, to deliver value for them is paramount to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Their niche offering means they can specialise at being the best in their field.
Dead Happy is another sterling example of insight-based branding that stands out and captures the attention. The ambitious life insurance start-up’s marketing content is edgy, upfront and talks about death in a refreshingly direct way. In the words of Phil Zeidler, Dead Happy co-founder 'Traditional life insurance is overpriced, complex and dull. People are paying over the odds as a result. Our philosophy is different – you're far less likely to die when you're younger, this means you should pay less. We're making this possible for the first time in the UK.' Tone of voice choices such as 'make a deathwish' might not resonate with older demographics - but they do with younger consumers who want insurance to feel demystified and direct. Matching insurance contributions to charitable pledges also plays well with millennial target audiences who evaluate trustworthiness using different metrics. They’re more likely to support the dynamic disruptive start-up that fits their world view and philosophy than the corporate underwriter.
Contextual consumer insight taps into everyday lives and the emotional and physical triggers. Insure-tech firms are utilising this insight to speak to target audiences in their language, on their terms with confidence. Whether that’s via innovative tech that changes the substance of the offering, the end results for customers making claims, or through new marketing and branding styles shaking up the look and feel of the insurance space. The insurance sector must spend more time listening to consumers, conducting research, harnessing insight then tailoring products to a world of consumers who are becoming ever more accustomed to doing pre-purchase research themselves.
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*KPMG's report is available here
**Deloitte's report is available here